December 9, 2009 12:00 AM

Today, during Cabinet Office Questions in the House of Commons, Jenny Willott MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Charities Spokesperson, challenged Angela Smith MP, Minister for the Third Sector, over the government's decision to divert £750,000 from the Campaign Research Programme into the Hardship Fund.

In answer, Mrs Smith said she "regretted" the decision, "acknowledged" that the Office of the Third Sector had broken the terms of the Compact and "apologised" for the impact it had on smaller charities.

Commenting afterwards, Jenny said:

"This is a startling admission by the Government that they have knowingly broken the terms of the Compact. I welcome the Minister's apology and commitment that it won't happen again.

"The Office of the Third Sector should be leading by example and demonstrating to all other public bodies the minimum standards that they are expected to meet when dealing with charities.

"The apology is important, but it doesn't make up for the financial mess that the government has created for the 32 small charities directly affected."

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